Transforming Renewal through a Charismatic-Catholic Encounter

An Experiment in Receptive Ecumenism


  • Andy Lord University of Birmingham, UK



pentecostal, charismatic renewal, monastic renewal, ecumenism, David Watson, Thomas Merton


Pentecostal-charismatic involvement in the ecumenical movement has grown over the last 50 years and with it the ecumenical focus on the work of the Holy Spirit. As Pentecostals and charismatics have become more positive about ecumenical involvement, others have sensed problems growing within ecumenical discussions with the goal of visible unity moving further away. One way being pioneered in this context is that of “receptive ecumenism” seen as a transformational process of growth enabled by the Holy Spirit. In charismatic terms this is can be seen as a movement that seeks renewal through engagement with other Christian traditions. This article seeks to explore how charismatic renewal might learn from engagement with monastic renewal in the Roman Catholic Tradition. In particular it engages with significant leaders in these traditions: David Watson and Thomas Merton. The question addressed in the paper will be: “What can the charismatic tradition, represented by Watson, appropriately learn with integrity from the Roman Catholic tradition, represented by Merton?” The theme of renewal is a broad one that covers all aspects of existence in the church and world. Yet renewal is rooted in the initiatives of the triune God and there is thus a theological heart that will provide a focus for this article. We will first outline Watson’s understanding of God in renewal and then compare this to that of Merton, so as to see what might be learned. Hence this article seeks to explore the challenges that remain to be explored in the charismatic understanding of renewal through an ecumenical engagement across disciplines of study that are not often brought together.

Author Biography

Andy Lord, University of Birmingham, UK

Rector of Trowell, Awsworth and Cossall in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, and Assistant Editor of PentecoStudies. Andy holds a PhD from the University of Birmingham and is the author of Spirit-Shaped Mission (Paternoster, 2005) and Network Church (Brill, 2012).


Barr, J. The Semantics of Biblical Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961.

Bebbington, D.W. Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s. London: Unwin Hyman, 1989.

Congar, Y. I Believe in the Holy Spirit, trans. D. Smith, 3 vols. London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1983.

Doctrine Commission of the General Synod of the Church of England. Contemporary Doctrine Classics: The Combined Reports. London: Church House, 2005.

Kärkkäinen, V.-M. Pneumatology: The Holy Spirit in Ecumenical, International, and Contextual Perspective. Ada, MI: Baker Books, 2002.

Kasper, W. A Handbook of Spiritual Ecumenism. Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2006.

Kinnamon, M. and B.E. Cope (eds). The Ecumenical Movement: An Anthology of Key Texts and Voices. Geneva: WCC Publications; Grand Rapids, MI: W.B.

Eerdmans, 1997. Merton, T. The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton. New York: New Directions, 1977.

—. Dancing in the Water of Life: Seeking Peace in the Hermitage, ed. R.E. Daggy. The Journals of Thomas Merton, vol. 5. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997.

—. The Hidden Ground of Love: The Letters of Thomas Merton on Religious Experience and Social Concerns, ed. W.H. Shannon. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1985.

—. The Monastic Journey, ed. P. Hart. London: Sheldon Press, 1977.

—. The New Man. Tunbridge Wells: Burns & Oates, 1961.

—. New Seeds of Contemplation. London: Burns and Oates, [1961] 1999.

—. No Man is an Island. Tunbridge Wells: Burns & Oates, 1955.

—. The Rule of Saint Benedict, ed. P.F. O’Connell. Initiation Into the Monastic Tradition, no. 4. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2009.

—. A Search for Solitude: Pursuing the Monk’s True Life, ed. L.S. Cunningham. The Journals of Thomas Merton, vol. 3. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996.

—. The Seven Storey Mountain. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1948.

—. The Silent Life. London: Sheldon Press, [1957] 1975.

—. Thomas Merton in Alaska: Prelude to the Asian Journal: The Alaskan Conferences, Journals, and Letters. New York: New Directions, 1989.

Murray, P.D. (ed.). Receptive Ecumenism and the Call to Catholic Learning: Exploring a Way for Contemporary Ecumenism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

—. “Receptive Ecumenism and Catholic Learning – Establishing the Agenda”. In Murray, Receptive Ecumenism and the Call to Catholic Learning, 2008: 5–25.

O’Connell, P. “Holy Spirit”. In Shannon et al., The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia, 2006: 207–10.

Pramuk, C. Sophia: The Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2009.

Robeck, C.M. “Lessons from the International Roman Catholic–Pentecostal Dialogue”. In W. Vondey (ed.), Pentecostalism and Christian Unity. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2010: 82–100.

Shannon, W. “Christology”. In Shannon et al., The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia, 2006: 51–54.

—. “Doctrines”. In Shannon et al., The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia, 2006: 117–18.

—. “Resurrection of Jesus Christ”. In Shannon et al., The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia, 2006: 386–8.

—. “Trinity, the Blessed”. In Shannon et al., The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia, 2006: 494–6.

Shannon, W.H., C.M. Bochen and P.F. O’Connell (eds). The Thomas Merton Encyclopedia. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2006.

Smail, T. The Forgotten Father. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1980.

Waldron, R. Thomas Merton: Master of Attention: An Exploration of Prayer. London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 2007.

Watson, D. Be Filled with the Spirit. Malton: Gilead Books, [1982] 2012.

—. Discipleship. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1983.

—. Fear No Evil: A Personal Struggle with Cancer. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1984.

—. I Believe in Evangelism. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1976.

—. I Believe in the Church, 2nd edn. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1982.

—. My God is Real. Eastbourne: Falcon Books, 1980.

—. One in the Spirit. Hodder & Stoughton, 1973.

—. You Are My God. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1983.

World Council of Churches. Together Towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 2012. Available at www.oikoumene. org/en/resources/documents/wcc-commissions/mission-and-evangelism/togethertowards-life-mission-and-evangelism-in-changing-landscapes (accessed 4 June 2014).



How to Cite

Lord, A. (2014). Transforming Renewal through a Charismatic-Catholic Encounter: An Experiment in Receptive Ecumenism. PentecoStudies, 13(2), 239-261.